Canadian territorial government cracks down on what goes into the ground during fracking

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

Canada’s Northwest Territories government says the public has a right to know what chemicals are being put into the ground by petroleum companies.

ConocoPhillips must disclose all chemicals used while fracking two horizontal wells in the community of  Tulita under the license awarded by the Sahtu Land and Water Board in June.

But that excludes chemicals considered to be “trade secrets”, which can be kept hidden.

Alberta oil patch consultant Jessica Ernst said undisclosed chemicals in the north are a particular concern.

“If a worker is covered in chemicals, how is the hospital to deal with that emergency or that person, how is the helicopter pilot to cope if he is flying a victim in a chopper, which often happens in remote areas, how is that pilot to cope with breathing in the chemicals coming off that patient,” Ernst said.

The minister of environment and natural resources, Michael Miltenberger, agrees it’s a concern.

“We as northerners have a right to know what the best practices are, that we will know clearly what we are allowing industry to put in the ground to assist with the shale gas production. It’s an imminently reasonable request,” Miltenberger said.

He said a government discussion paper to guide regulators on fracking in the territories has been in the works for months.

He hopes those guidelines are ready for public review this fall.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.